Life Access projects $3.3M in earnings in 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

AKRON, Ohio - Robert Gurinowitsch discovered the home modification business by accident, but since hanging out his shingle in 2006, there's been nothing accidental about his growth, which has averaged 15% to 20% a year.

"It's been steady," said Gurinowitsch, a former insurance restoration specialist with a long background in construction. "We kept around 1,500 people home last year from going to care facilities, and the year before that it was 900 or so."

Gurinowitsch expects his company, Life Access, to earn about $3.3 million this year.

When it comes to his clients, most "don't realize what is out there to help them, but once they get to see and touch what we do, it makes a world of difference," he said.

Until getting injured in a car accident in 1999 and landing in bed for 18 months, Gurinowitsch was in the same boat.

"It brought me to the realization of what these individuals need," he said.

Life Access operates four locations (Ohio, Michigan, western New York and western Pennsylvania) and offers 5,000 mobility and accessibility products, including personal lifts, transfer systems, stair lifts, elevators, automatic door openers, specialized tubs and showers, exterior ramps and more.

Gurinowitsch generates a lot of his business by word of mouth and by speaking at church groups, non-profit foundations like the American Heart Association, chambers of commerce and other community organizations. 

The company--a consultant to The VGM Group's Accessible Home Improvement of America (AHIA) division--works independently and with HME providers that don't have the in-house expertise to carry out a home modification.

"We're born and raised contractors," Gurinowitsch said. "You don't want just anyone cutting a structure and saying, 'Hey, look, I'm going to put this opening right here.'"

When it comes to home modifications, clients love being able to remain in their homes, but money can be a touchy subject, he said, especially when a typical job costs thousands of dollars--in cash. This often requires a person to take out a loan, arrange for a reverse mortgage or dip into savings.

"Any time you are dealing with mom and dad, someone in the family--and it is unfortunate--is like, 'If mom and dad die, I get the money you are spending,'" he said. "So we include the entire family, and when we have the doctor, PT and everyone else backing us, the family is like, 'Okay. They are not trying to take mom and dad's money.'" hme